22 Nov 2006

Solomon Islands auditor general hopes public funds can be reclaimed

4:27 pm on 22 November 2006

The Solomon Islands auditor general, Floyd Fatai, is hopeful that the government will be able to get back some of the public funds associated with compensation payments from 2001, worth millions of dollars.

His office found widespread abuse of the system when it audited 60 payments out of more than 1,000 claimants for the 25 million US dollar loan extended by Taiwan's EXIM bank to compensate for losses suffered during the ethnic tensions.

Mr Fatai says these included one MP, two former MPs, five government officials, including one permanent secretary, and four ex militants.

The auditor general says police are believed to be close to bringing charges in one of the cases.

Mr Fatai says if that case proves successful in the courts, they may look at pursuing the missing money from those who inflated their claims or made bogus claims.

"That they could have built up these assets through the use of those public funds which have been fraudulently obtained. So, we are optimistic that we could get back some of the monies that have been fraudulently obtained."

Mr Fatai says the highest payout went to a local businessman but another high payout went to the deputy speaker and former prime minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, who was awarded compensation of more than 100,000 U.S. dollars.

The audit of the claim estimated the compensation should have been just over 21,000 dollars.